LEST THEY BE FORGOTTEN: CARING FOR THE ELDERLY WITH DEMENTIA

On the 21st of September, people across the globe will observe World Alzheimer’s Day in remembrance of those who suffer from this debilitating disease. As dementia progresses, the person will become increasingly less able to look after themselves – but this does not mean their life has come to an end. Approximately 24 million people suffer from dementia worldwide; learning how to care for them is crucial.

Whether you choose to care for your ailed family member yourself or place them in the charge of a caregiver or home, a key element of their well-being is simply not to be forgotten. Regardless of how frequently the elder is lucid, they need the love and support of their family and friends. Whichever avenue of care you choose, the key is to ensure your loved one is in good hands.

“Caring for someone with memory loss, confusion, restlessness and anxiety – all components of changes in the brain that is no longer able to receive or interpret signals – is not for the weak-hearted. It takes deep fortitude and strength of spirit,” says Matron Painter of the Brenthurst Residence.

As the elder’s ability to communicate falters, Matron Painter believes their behaviour becomes their language. “Gauging behaviour with this understanding can offer vital clues for managing their care. We can’t simply write off odd actions as being due to memory loss. Should we not rather consider what they may need, and in filling that need, reset their behaviour?”

Let us not forget that this person, even in their diminished mental capacity, is still a person. They lived a full life, had meaningful relationships, and shared their intelligence with the world for many decades. “When you view the elder as a person, as someone who was and still is an ‘Elder Resource’, you realise that they still have many gifts to give,” states Matron Painter.

When considering whether a care home is the right place for your loved one, question whether they focus on memory stimulating activities and what steps are taken to ensure the residents are comfortable and cared for. “We make special allowances, such as allowing couples to stay together at the home when one is suffering from dementia,” says Painter. “This helps the resident feel comforted and safe, while their partner gets the help they need to care for them, without having to live apart.”

The staff at the Brenthurst Residence passionately care for the aged, ensuring that their lives are still made worth living, helping them to fight off loneliness, helplessness and boredom. “When this is achieved, it goes a long way towards drastically improving their lives, alleviating the scariest and most frustrating elements of ageing and dementia,” she adds.

Family support is also incredibly important, and a vital element in keeping the family involved in the resident’s life. As such, Brenthurst Residence hosts a monthly *Dementia Care Support Group for family members and the community at large. The focus of this Group is to provide family and friends with vital tools needed to care for a loved one dealing with Dementia.

“When you see the elder’s eyes light up when something is triggered in the deepest recesses of their minds; when you realise that they are still alive inside, caring for them with love, patience and gentleness is a calling that must be answered,” concludes Painter.

For more information on dementia care, visit www.brenthurstresidence.co.za or contact Matron Painter at matronlpainter@telkomsa.net.

*The Dementia Care Support Group is open to all and meets at 15h00 on the first Wednesday of every month, in the Brenthurst Residence lounge.

OUR STAFF – A PRECIOUS INVESTMENT

 The Brenthurst Residence “MISSION STATEMENT” clearly conveys that we understand and value that the community at large puts a premium on a professionally run home which includes both Registered Nurses and our specially trained staff to meet the various needs of their loved ones.

Early on, we realized that we needed to avoid outsourcing staff so that we could focus on the staff we had chosen, to invest our time, values, our specific policies and procedures, attitudinal approach with specific training to uplift, inform and place value on each person to be able to motivate our team towards service excellence.

We started this process by hiring a professional to do a very enlightening SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) Analysis particularly as related to our Human Resources Department and general practices in the home.  Much good came of this and programs such as Safety, Job induction Training and ongoing Peer Evaluations, HR counselling processes and referrals, Monthly Kudos, floating trophies in the various departments and Annual Trophies and Prize-giving’s. We also provide medical attention and 1st Aid on and off location, cash and door prizes for attending seminars, and ongoing practical testing along with annual written exams which create a bit of healthy competition amongst the staff.

Most enjoyed are the Life-Skill training sessions, which always include a spiritual component and something practical such as “How to bake a cake in a beer-box” during our May session – this was then presented to the staff to enjoy in celebration of our facility’s 20th Birthday! 

A 20-year service Trophy was presented by Matron Nunes to Charlene Prins for her Service. 

This month we taught staff how to propagate tomato seedlings in a pot from slices of tomato along with a demonstration on how to grow your own veggie garden from the little seed-boxes Checkers gives away – we already have some keen gardeners in the home, working with Imaan, our Occupational Therapist.  Some “Lucky-Draw” winners received a bag full of the little garden boxes along with an umbrella for coming early to class.

Housekeeping and Carer staff each have their own roles to play in our Disaster/Fire Drills which are done twice a year.  This year, we had all our housekeeping staff, acting as “potential patients”, make it out to the Assembly Point in between 6 to 11 minutes (depending on the number of folk who had to be evacuated).  This was well within the 15-minute arrival time of external Emergency Teams.  The Housekeeping Team cares for all the clients who have been triaged and cleared for “granny/grandpa-sitting”.  However, they also felt they should learn about 1st Aid at the Assembly Point and made suggestions via our suggestion box, the peer review system and at the monthly department representatives meetings we have in place.  Here are some wonderful photos of the workshops held last week…….

People being people, raises the understanding that not everyone is able to work *to time, *to standard, *without wastage or *with joy.  This has resulted that we induce our staff into our style of management and upskilling over a 3-month initial period via mentoring and evaluation.  This costs EFFORT and MONEY!  Sometimes we see great potential and sometimes those bright personalities find it hard to fit into a specific role.  This is when we have to evaluate HOW MUCH COST WE HAVE ALREADY SUNK INTO THIS PERSON, regardless of their personal tragedies, struggles or actual potential.  We have to consider their “fit” into the various teams (often swopping work stations to give them another opportunity to shine) and to give them time to buy into our values, preferred attitude, standards and value system.  And, even though we are a Christian-run organization, we still have a mandate to grace-filled-provision of an exclusive, “Home-away-from-Home” care for discerning Elderly.

  This requires Etiquette and a drive to learn, no matter what it takes.  GOOD, WELL DEVELOPED STAFF ARE AN ASSET WHERE THERE IS NO ROOM FOR “SUNK-COST-FALLACY THINKING”. (SEE Tammy Lenski’s very enlightening article on Sunk-Cost-Fallacy which I hope you will enjoy)!  Sadly, people do come and go, but upliftment is our aim in the process of providing excellent care.

 

To date we have a Housekeeping Manager who started at a kitchen sink 16 years ago, a new PA to the Services Manager who started as a cleaner, two wonderful Housekeeping Supervisors who were also cleaners, and a myriad of Housekeepers and trainees who have completed a 3-year housekeeping course designed by their Manager.  In the Nursing Department, we have a Staff Nurse, who became a Nursing Manager and is now our esteemed HR Manager; 4 Senior Charge Nurses and their 2 relievers assist the Sisters; Carer Team Leaders rise up to their roles with a second-in-command and their team of 1 to 3 junior Carers who are specifically trained by Sr. Howes.  Thus far we have had one Carer who became an RN and then moved on to become a Facility Manager; 2 others trained to become RN’s, 5 became ENA’s and 1 trained to become a Staff Nurse (EN).  We also take in nursing students from SEESA and other training facilities to ground them in excellence of care as our specific Community Service Project.  Most wonderful of all is that we currently have two of our young Carers registered in College to become Registered Nurses and are shining because of the training they have received here. 

It has long been my dream over the last 16 years to run a licensed training school and this may yet come about once the Dept. of Social Development settles on a standardized Curriculum for Carers to be registered. Thus, imagine my joy when I was recently a patient at Kingsbury hospital, being lovingly greeted by one of my students, now an RN, running her own floor!

Our beautiful staff makes my heart sing for joy and my life so blessed by their willingness to learn and so wholeheartedly serve our residents!  I am proud of you all, past and present!

Love, Matron P

Mission Statement

 

Our Vision is to:

“Provide an exclusive, Christian, “Home-away-from-Home” for the Nursing Needs and Care of discerning elderly.

Our Mission is to:

  • excel at providing individualized care by trained and professional nursing staff.
  • To enhance our clients’ lives by respectfully attending to their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.
  • While creating an atmosphere conducive to client and family satisfaction,
  • Our further desire is to enhance our employees’ lives through in-service training and maintaining Biblical values.”

Goals:

WE WILL EVALUATE WHAT WE ARE TRADING OUR LIVES FOR ON A CONSISTENT BASIS BY MAINTAINING THE FOLLOWING VALUES:

  • BEING ON TIME
  • WORKING TO STANDARD,
  • WITHOUT WASTAGE
  • AND WITH JOY

Signature CEO:                  Date: 31 – 3 – 2017

Signature Matron:          Date: 31 – 3 – 2017

 

Life at brenthurst

Back to the Hawaiian theme of last time – drums beating and Hula girls swaying……..What is it about a beat and body-moving-music that gets one going?  The steady beat thrumming with our hearts anmusic stirring the senses in response?

So it is even with the elderly, at 9.am today in the frail Care – Unit, barely awake after a comfort –food brekkie, the music on and Carers and Residents armed with tambourines / shakers / tapping sticks & clapping.  The sparkof rhythms soon light up tired eyes & feet start tapping.

 

Then the singing starts and music therapy is in full swing as clapping starts to drown out the music. Who cares if it is in tune?  The blood is now pumping, eyes bright and cheeks flushed in “the history of now” joins in yesteryear when they were a whirl on the dance floor, memories in the making then and now being re-awakened.

 

 

 

The smiles are worth it all and for a while life on the Frail Care unit, known as “Brenton Lodge,” is alive with joy and new delights, where the music of the heart never fades

 

 

 

Sincerely

Matron Lizann Painter